I arrived in the late afternoon of a perfect July summer day and easily found my way to my hotel - the Park Inn - at Alexanderplatz. Wow! What an eyesore to the Berlin skyline! However, our small room was quite nice, and being on the 21st floor, we had unbelievable views of the city.
Looking out at Berlin's landmarks you get a sense of the vastness of this city. Twenty first century architecture alongside centuries old monuments symbolize both an eventful history as well as a very cutting edge culture. Below us was Alexanderplatz with its grey, concrete GDR tower blocks. You can't escape from Cold War reminders in this city.
What an amazing meal it turned out to be!
We asked the guys at the bar about the place being so hard to find. They explained it was all deliberate. They also mentioned that after 10:00 the bar section turns into a nightclub. The main doors open then. They also told us that the club only gets lively at midnight! So, no, clubbing was definitely not our scene. We headed back into the beautiful Berlin summer evening.
Midmorning we hopped on a train to Potsdam. It was Fabian's 8th birthday, and we were meeting up with him and Julia. After fetching us from the station we went into Potsdam and strolled through its historic, pedestrianized center, taking in the pretty architecture.
The weather was fine - a tad cool - but pleasant for walking and exploring. We had lunch at an Asian restaurant - a mediocre meal - nothing that will make it to the memory archives.
After dinner we strolled back to our place and sat beside the lake, sipping more wine and chatting with Julia and Fabian. A family of swans fascinated Fabian and he couldn't take his eyes off them. There is nothing quite like northern European summer evenings, when the weather is pleasant and it stays light until close to 10:00.
Due to bad planning on my part we weren't able to go inside and take in views from the dome's roof terrace. You had to buy tickets 4 days in advance.
Notice the red bicycle lane. Berlin's roads are designed to fully accommodate cyclists. How wonderful to be able to get around a big city safely on a bicycle!
We said goodbye to Julia and Fabian at lunch time. Daryl spent the afternoon on museum island. I gave him instructions to check out the Pergamon altar, the Gates of Miletus, the Gates of Ishtar and Nefertiti's bust. After a few hours of taking in antiquities Daryl was done with museums! I spent the afternoon walking around Potsdamer Platz.
Almond Ricotta Canneloni
Leek Balls | Ratatouille Cream | Pak Choi | Apricot
We took in the interesting paintings on the East Side Gallery, the largest section of Berlin Wall still standing. Pity about the graffiti sprayed over the really good art.
We ended our Berlin stay in style. We got tickets to the Berlin Open Air Classical Concert held in Gendarmenmarkt. What an amazing setting! It felt like the ultimate in La dolce vita to be sitting in front of three stunning buildings - the French Cathedral, the Deutscher Dom, and the Konzerthaus - on a warm summer evening, and listening to a selection of popular Mozart and Beethoven pieces. I couldn't believe that they performed Eine Kleine Nachtmusiek and Fur Elise, but I actually enjoyed it. Beethoven's Choral Fantasy was the highlight, although I very much enjoyed the arias and duets from Haydn's Il Mondo De La Luna, Beethoven's Fidelio, and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. There were stunning light displays of various hues and patterns on the stage as well as on the two cathedrals.
After this utterly satisfying concert we went across the street to an inviting bar for a nightcap. There was lounge type seating with comfortable cushions on the terrace. The place was crowded and atmospheric as is so typical of northern European cities on warm summer evenings. It was quite the perfect way to end our fantastic Berlin visit.